We are going to Kas, Turkey
We were planning a 5 day trip to Antalya and my work colleagues said I had to visit Kas, a small town in Turkey. I had previously not heard much about Kas but when I saw the pictures and reviews I just fell in love with the place. I pitched the idea to F and he agreed. So now we had to decide on the travel and living arrangements.
We booked reasonably priced tickets from Istanbul (Sabiha Gokçen Airport) to Antalya. We decided to book 2 nights at Holiday Inn Antalya and three nights at a small and cozy Pension, LALE HOTEL, in Kas.
Now we had to figure out how we were gonna get from Antalya to Kas. Google maps showed us a 3 hour drive along the Mediterranean coast and we thought …wouldn’t that be lovely. My husband loves driving and was just thrilled by the idea. So we booked a rental car from the airport and that was the start of one of the best trips we have ever taken together.
The best 2-day stay in Antalya
We flew out of Istanbul on a warm Friday evening. The flight was short and pleasant. We were in the air for no longer than an hour and a half. Once we touched down at the airport we immediately sensed the change in climate. It was hot and humid and reminded us of Durban, South Africa. We could also sense this relaxing vibe that made us feel thousands of miles from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. There was nobody shouting in the street. There was literally no traffic. The roads were empty at 9 p.m. This really gave us the holiday feeling that were looking for.
Rental car Mishap
Our rental car issues seem to be never-ending. However, we always end up renting cars because we often need the freedom to travel at our own pace and discover the landscape on our own terms. Therefore, we think it is sometimes worthwhile renting a car. If you are looking for some advice about renting a car…see our article…
We collected our bags and walked to the rental car section. After being unable to find the rental company’s office in the airport building we called the service line. We were told that our car would be delivered to us in the airport parking area. We were quite annoyed because this was not mentioned when we booked the car online. Nonetheless, our car was delivered promptly and we set off for the hotel.
We booked a room with a balcony because my husband was still smoking back then and, generally, because we just love the views. And what an amazing view it was. The hotel room was small and comfortable. Typical Holiday Inn. We always know what to expect. We ordered room service and went to bed early because we planned to get up early the next day.
Beach day YAAY !
The next morning we were up early and treated ourselves to the hotel buffet breakfast that only cost us 35 TL. Thereafter, we prepared to head out to the beach! We got to the beach at around 10 a.m. The weather was awesome. It was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze. However, I found the water far too cold. I have a very low threshold for cold water and I don’t enjoy being frozen. Nevertheless, I lay in the Sun and read a book. The beach was quiet and peaceful. There was just one other couple there.
DUDEN Park in Antalya
Next we walked to the famous Duden Park in Antalya. It was a lovely walk along the seaside. Along the way we saw tourists taking pictures and families having picnics. The atmosphere was really touristy and relaxing. The weather was amazing. Hot but not overwhelming. And of course, the highlight of Duden Park is the magnificent waterfall. The site of the Duden River gushing off a high cliff directly into the sea is breathtaking.
The location has amazing views of the river, the sea and the waterfall. You could spend hours there just taking pictures. At one point, we could even feel the droplets of water as they were gently carried along by the wind. Adjacent to the sea there was a traditional market selling all sorts of eats and souvenirs. There were also some activities available near the river like boat rides. By this time we were both quite sweaty and salty, not to mention hungry so we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.
We had dinner at a local cafe near our hotel. The food was good and the service was great too. I remember that they offered us the most amazing Turkish Delight as a dessert. It was really unique. We went for a short walk after dinner before making our way to the hotel since we were anticipating a long challenging drive planned for the next day. It’s so amazing how quickly time goes when you are on holiday and how slow it goes while you are at work. Our time in Antalya city seemed to end almost before it began. We passed 2 days in the blink of an eye.
The Road To Kas
The next morning we had a light breakfast and hit the road early so that we could travel slowly and make the most of the sites and attractions on the way to Kas. Our first stop was Kaleici, also referred to as Antalya (Old City). The setting was iconic and it made us wish we had stayed here. The city was surrounded by these old buildings separated by ancient narrow streets and boutique cafes and restaurants. We walked through the traditional market. It looked like a much smaller, more friendly and hospitable version of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. In the same way, Antalya seemed like a more relaxed, more quiet version of Istanbul. I can remember when I first visited Istanbul that although I fell in love with the city I just felt that there was too much of everything, good and bad, in Istanbul.
We did the usual
We took some pictures next to some old buildings and structures. Then took a ride through the city on a horse and carriage. (The ride was fun but I felt everyone was looking at us for some reason. They were all probably wondering why we were in
a carriage in the year 2019..) We found a cafe with the most amazing view of the sea and decided to have a meal
there as it was such an amazing sight. It was like a painting. We could have spent the entire day there but, sadly, we had to move on to our prize destination, Kas. So we hit the road hard for another hour and a half. The roads were not particularly busy and we took in some great views of the countryside.
Coffee stop in the Middle of Nowhere
At one stage, we found ourselves on a narrow hilly road surrounded by the most enchanting hills, forests, and farmland. Then we started seeing cars pulled over in front of these traditional-looking stores. We noticed that they were selling honey and oranges and had small tables with benches for people to have a quick snack. We had to stop and investigate. What we found was rare and spectacular. I ordered a fresh orange juice and F ordered a Turkish Coffee. The coffee was hot and the juice was well chilled. We were seated at a table adjacent to the store that had a lovely view of the surrounding hills.
The air was fresh and cool despite it being a warm Summer’s day. It was a real treat. And what was more surprising was the price. I was expecting to pay some ridiculous tourist’s price for these beverages because that’s usually how it is. However, the price was reasonable.
Antalya to Kas… getting on with it…
We also stopped at a random harbor next to the road and took a short walk to have a look. It was nothing special but it just felt good to get out of the car and have ice-cream while looking at the sea. Although we had many stops on the way to Kas, the highlight was definitely the scenic route that we experienced during the last hour of our trip to Kas. After enjoying the beautiful countryside and the odd sea view here and there we suddenly found ourselves on a narrow 2-lane road cut out of huge cliffs that overlook the sea.
It was like driving on the edge of a mountain with the deep blue sea on the right and this immense mountain on the right. It was simply overwhelming. The unbelievable beauty of this road along with its twists and turns reminded me a lot of Champan’s Peak in Cape Town, South Africa. One of the most beautiful beach drives on Earth.
We were left dumbfounded, completely unprepared for this picturesque sight. We tried taking pictures and videos but they could not do justice to this scenic route. The more we drove towards Kas the more beautiful the landscape became. At the same time, the Sun began to set, which made for even more beautiful highlighted outlines of the already magnificent surroundings.
And then… Finally, we got to Kas
By now, I was quite hungry and tired and felt like I needed a soothing shower. We found our hotel quite easily using the location sent to us by the hotel staff. The hotel was just as we expected it. We were greeted respectfully by a warm and friendly middle-aged Turkish speaking (only) couple. They also introduced us to another older lady who I assume is the grandmother. We had previously been in contact with the couple’s son who was not on site but speaks enough English to deal with bookings and so on. We would later meet another woman there who happened to be a retired nurse. So that was the family who hosted us in Kas.
They were overly welcoming and even tried to carry our bags which we pleasantly refused. The hotel was simply amazing. The entrance had beautiful bushes that arched. There was a simple but cool front terrace that overlooked the street. The terrace also included an outdoor seating area. The room was modern and spacious. However, the view from the balcony was shockingly beautiful. It was the reason we booked this apartment. We sat out on the balcony awe-struck and watched the sunset. It was like a scene from a film.
We felt so fortunate to have witnessed the immense beauty that had surrounded us. Nonetheless, we ordered a pizza that we had in our room and went to bed. The next morning we went down to a buffet breakfast that included tea, coffee and some fresh fruit. They also had cornflakes and milk. Our hosts then served us with a simple Turkish breakfast. We then realized that we were the only guests at the hotel.
We felt really special and enjoyed having this little boutique hotel all to ourselves. We were eager to get going and explore the place. It was different from any other place we have ever seen in Turkey. Everything about it seemed unique and had this beach paradise holiday vibe atmosphere. The weather was amazing: hot, sunny, and humid during the day and cool with that sea breeze during the night. The narrow cobblestone streets flanked by quaint cafes and decorated stores selling arts and crafts really gave off this calm and laid back feeling. In fact, we spent the entire day strolling through the markets buying odds, taking pictures of the beautiful everything, and eating some good food along the way.
Kas appears to be a natural bay of the most beautiful turquoise water surrounded by green hills and cliffs. There is evidence of its Greek history that can be seen in some of the old blue and white houses. For some reason, this amazing seaside town has remained somewhat untouched and remains spectacularly traditional and localized. There are no skyscrapers there or international hotel chains. There is no MacDonald’s or Starbucks. Most of the businesses are locally-owned or looked like unknown small enterprises. However, we did manage to find a small Carrefour to get some basic groceries and necessities. This is one of the things that really set Kas apart from other places in Turkey. It was a place that had kept its individual character.
Let’s get out there and do something serious…
So we had a good time walking around aimlessly on the previous day. Today was the day for action. However, our day of wandering was not just in vain. We also subtly surveyed the town for fun-filled activities that would not cost us an arm and a leg. After all, we were in Turkey and Turkey is cheap, right? We had a lot of people approach us offering us different packages and tours. They all spoke English and were eager to have us. So we briefly heard them out without showing too much interest and moved on swiftly. Some people were quoting us in USD and Euros. We didn’t view this favorably.
Our first diving experience
Eventually, we came across an office with two mannequins in diving suits. There were some tourists waiting inside so we went in to have a look. The staff there seemed honest and reliable so we agreed to return the next morning to choose an item from their long list of activities from Diving to Parachuting. As planned, we returned the next morning nice and early to get the day started off with some real action. Due to the clear and warm weather they had recommended that we try the diving experience and we were keen.
The instructor was very friendly and pleasant despite not being the most fluent speaker of English. So we boarded the small boat oozing excitement. The kind of excitement that is really unnecessary for two fully grown adults. We were both going diving for the first time. And, in addition, I am not even a good swimmer so I was over-joyed when the instructor agreed to take me diving as well. The instructor assured us that safety is a priority and that he would take the utmost care to make the experience enjoyable while safe and secure.
As the boat took off into this beautiful sea outlined by the equally beautiful green hills our instructor began taking us through the equipment and guidelines for the dive. He took his time and meticulously explained everything so well to us using nothing but his survival English. That in itself was admirable.
The instructor took us one at a time. I went first while F had a swim around the boat without tiring himself out. I felt rather odd with all that heavy equipment on. And then, with a slight push down I went into the cool water. I felt a moment of fear and uncertainty and then I was fine. I realized that everything was going to be just fine. As I went deeper the water started to get a little cooler. I felt like I was in a fishbowl. This was my first time under the sea. It was a surreal experience. Then I started seeing fish and other unique creatures.
Never had I seen these scenes so clear and up-close. It became silent and all I could hear was my breathing and bubbles. The instructor was always in control made the experience really easy and enjoyable for me. The underwater dive lasted around 30 minutes and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. We were fortunate to have done our first diving expedition in Kas. We have since come to realize that Kas is a well-known diving spot because of its warm and exceptionally clear water. It is also home to a range of diverse sea creatures. We were lucky to spot just a few.
The entire diving trip took almost 2 hours. The captain of the ship also made us some tea after the dive which tasted really good and soothing. We were really satisfied with the experience as a whole. The tour operator and instructor were friendly and professional. The equipment looked new. It was good value. The only thing I was not thrilled with were some of the underwater pictures. But then again, I tend to be very fussy about this topic, photos of me.
We were really happy after the dive so when the tour operator invited us to join his upcoming day-trip we agreed. He promised to give us a fun-filled day with lots of interesting activities and meals/snacks included. We were told to carry extra clothes and swimwear, mmm. So we walked to the pick-up spot at 8:30 the next morning, not knowing exactly what to expect. We were introduced to 3 other local couples. They seemed friendly but they spoke little to no English, with the exception of one lady. The driver came by on time and hooted: “POP POP!” and we jumped into the back of an old but well-kept Land Rover Defender. It was a bit of a tight squeeze, pretty much like all public transport in Istanbul. We managed.
Breakfast Stop : The first stop was breakfast at a café that looked like it was adjacent to and old couple’s house in a nearby village. They served tea, orange juice and some traditional pancakes. This was where we exchanged pleasantries and discussed the plan for the day. We didn’t understand much but the driver briefed us about what we were going to do.
Saklikent National Park: The next stop was Saklikent National Park. The tour guide driver kept calling it “an adventure”, for lack of a better word on his part, which kind of left us in the dark about what exactly it was.“We are going to have a lot of adventure” he said, eagerly. It turned out to be a famous tourist attraction that we had no idea about. And yes, there was a lot of adventure going on there. The term our jolly tour guide was looking for was gorge-walking or gorge-scrambling. And the adventure in question involved cautiously navigating our way through a shallow stream of ice-cold water between two huge cliffs with some holes and large rocks on the way. It was a great adventure.
I would say that this activity is better suited to the more athletic types, like F, while still being doable for the average person, like me. To be honest, I didn’t like the icy water at all. It was just too cold for me. After a while my clothes got wet and the Sun disappeared which gave me the shivers. I did enjoy the overall experience though. It was something I would recommend for couples and even families. Also, the tour guide was extremely funny and entertaining.
Lunch Break: By the time we finished the adventure we were ready for lunch. The tour included lunch without drinks. Drinks were sold separately. We had lunch at a traditional restaurant at the entrance to the park. We were served a smallish grilled Trout with fries and salad.
After having a good meal and socializing a bit we jumped into the Defender and got going. We passed though the ancient Lycian city of Xanthos. The driver spoke about the area as we drove by different remains of this ancient city. It was all in Turkish of course so we didn’t benefit much from the historical commentary of this leg of the tour. However, we figured that the city was really old. And there was something mentioned about the graves of dead people. We still found the drive interesting.
Best for last: Kaputas Beach
By now it was late afternoon and our tour was coming to an end. We drove through a pretty Kas-like looking town that was Kalkan. It looked really beautiful. The driver stopped at a café to buy some watermelons and ice-creams for us, which I thought was quite nice. I can never say no to ice-cream. Then we were back on that seaside road again, remember, the one with the cliffs on one side and the beautiful sea on the other. And then, we stopped. We got out of the car and were immediately overwhelmed by the most beautiful beach we have ever seen, Kaputas beach. To be honest, neither words nor pictures can do justice to the amaze-level present at this location.
You just have to go to Kaputas and experience it for yourself. I have attached some pictures to give you an idea. This beach was perfect in every sense of the word. The water was deep blue. The sands were white and silky. The waves were moderately strong and enjoyable. The surrounding cliffs provided shade from the sun at certain parts. It was just so pleasurable. Even though I was quite tired y now I was suddenly revived when we were brought here. It was the perfect end to an interesting and unexpectedly entertaining day in Kas. This was a really special day for so many reasons. I got to see many things and experienced a fun tour with strangers. I experienced so much adventure…The tour guide kept his promise. The weather was perfect. I couldn’t think of any other better way to spend the a long Summer’s day.
The best things happen when you least expect it.